If this is what you keep asking yourself I understand where you’re coming from. Just how many social media platforms do we have to have a presence on, or be active on? I’ve got a LinkedIn account, I’m on Facebook and Twitter and have set up the Instagram account and now there’s Snapchat. Do I have to do that too? Answers (by way of comment at the end of the blog) most welcome!
Back to you.
What’s the point of LinkedIn?
It’s a professional networking tool allowing you to market your own profile, see what’s going on with employers which interest you, perhaps engage in discussion relevant to your possible future career choices and build your address book. It allows you to keep in contact with people you’ve met in a professional capacity and who knows when that might be useful?
So a bit like Facebook?
Not really. This isn’t the place for the raunchy or drunken photographs, the sweet photos of dogs or kittens or the discussion on where you’re going to meet up tonight. You’ll want a professional photograph that you’d be happy for any boss to see and a profile pitch that succinctly describes who you are and what you’re looking for. Try to manage something better than “University student looking for a graduate job”, the profile is used to match you up with potential jobs. “Law graduate now looking for a paralegal post in the West Midlands area” has proved a successful opener on several occasions and has led to job interviews and employment.
Once you have the account you’ll want to build your connections. You might want to get on with this fairly quickly, under 50 connections looks a bit like you’re “Billy no mates” and is unlikely to attract employers! Try to avoid the Facebook approach of “click here to invite as friend”. Show your professionalism by sending a personalised invitation request to anyone you would like to have in your network. Get in the habit of doing this whenever you are wanting to connect and you’re likely to find a much higher hit rate with acceptances. Sometime a really short message will suffice, but if you’ve only met someone once, or it was a long time ago, or the person is a lot older or more senior than you in employment terms a few more words, couched in very polite terms might be appropriate.
Once you’ve started to build your network it’s time to think about groups. You might start with your University and if you’re a Warwick law student we’d love you to join the Warwick law Alumni group so that we can hear about your exciting future career steps. We might just be asking you back too! Join groups that relate to your interests, you’ll be able to follow discussions and you might want to think about making comments. It’s a great way to start to develop a profile in the area which interests you.
Make sure that you use LinkedIn as a tool when you prepare for interviews. You will often be told who will be interviewing you, if not you can always try asking! Look up your interviewers, you might well find they’ve looked you up too. Don’t worry that they will be able to see that you have been looking at their profile, this isn’t a form of sleazy stalking it’s about being professional and preparing properly for every interview opportunity. You may even find that you have something in common and it might allow you to steer the interview conversation away from a scary topic onto something you would like to talk about.
I think you need to commit to getting that LinkedIn account set up. Perhaps it could be an Easter vacation task!